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First US Count Finds 1 in 200 Kids Are Vegetarian

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Associated Press: Sam Silverman is co-captain of his high school football team -- a safety accustomed to bruising collisions. But that's nothing compared with the abuse he gets for being a vegetarian.

"I get a lot of flak for it in the locker room," said the 16-year-old junior at Westborough High School in Massachusetts.

"All the time, my friends try to get me to eat meat and tell me how good it tastes and how much bigger I would be," said Silverman, who is 5-foot-10 and 170 pounds. "But for me, there's no real temptation."

Silverman may feel like a vegetable vendor at a butchers' convention, but about 367,000 other kids are in the same boat, according to a recent study that provides the government's first estimate of how many children avoid meat. That's about 1 in 200.

Other surveys suggest the rate could be four to six times that among older teens who have more control over what they eat than young children do.

Vegetarian diets exclude meat, but the name is sometimes loosely worn. Some self-described vegetarians eat fish or poultry on occasion, while others -- called vegans -- cut out animal products of any kind, including eggs and dairy products.

Anecdotally, adolescent vegetarianism seems to be rising, thanks in part to YouTube animal slaughter videos that shock the developing sensibilities of many U.S. children. But there isn't enough long-term data to prove that, according to government researchers.

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2 comments so far | Post a comment now
Anonymous January 12, 2009, 11:20 AM

They probably were forced to be by their parents.

Amy January 12, 2009, 12:00 PM

My children (ages 5 and 7) are being raised pesco-vegetarian, meaning we eat fish and seafood as long as it not farm raised. We recently tried adding organic chicken to our diet and I couldn’t pay my kids to eat it. They tried it and tried it, again and again and again. All of us collectively decided we were happier without it. They are not being forced into anything.

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